Rural Alaska has witnessed drastic lifestyle changes in the short time since it became a state in 1959.
These changes include an ever-increasing dependence on fossil fuels, particularly gasoline and diesel fuel.
Fossil-fuel use impacts virtually every aspect of Alaska's ecosystems even as it helps alleviate some of
the demands of living in such a harsh environment. Today, nearly all Alaskan residents rely on fossil
fuels in their daily activities. The use of snowmobiles and motorized boats has helped ease the intense
and rigorous lifestyle of rural residents-they have allowed for a more comfortable way to hunt, fish, and
gather traditional foods.
While these new technologies add to the problem of fossil-fuel dependence, they also provide ways to adapt
to climate change impacts. The people of Southwest Alaska have noticed extreme changes in the environment,
including lower precipitation rates, which result in lower lake and river levels. These lower water levels
have prevented hunters from entering previously accessible areas in some tributaries. However, with recent
technologies such as jet-drive outboard motors, people can again reach these hunting areas, thus easing the
transition to the evolving landscape.